A new look at social issues

26 April 2018 | EducationCommunity
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The Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre Symposium 2018 attracted 225 participants, including students and practitioners in the social service sector

The Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre Symposium at NUS University Town on 23 April saw students speaking passionately about the research they had conducted in various areas, ranging from how community partners and neighbours can enable the elderly to take ownership of their well-being to reintegrating ex-offenders into society. Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development graced the occasion as Guest-of-Honour.

Students from schools across NUS formed project groups to work on various research topics. Speaking of the six presentations at the Symposium, Associate Professor Albert Teo, Director of the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre said, “The common thread in all the presentations this year is that the voices of the people on the ground do matter. Social policies and intervention programmes need to take into account individual and community narratives. Only then would policies and programmes be effective and impactful.”

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Mr Lee (3rd from left) held a dialogue with the participants

Jocelyn Joy Gwee, a Year 3 NUS Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) student; Year 2 Yale-NUS College student Dinh Hai Bao Lien; and FASS alumna Ms Amanda Tang conducted research on the various forms of prosocial networks — positive helpful relationships — that could support ex-offenders in Singapore, such as family, friends, work and religion. The group found that certain psychosocial traits such as positivism, autonomy and confidence were able to help them surmount obstacles and move towards not re-offending. Sharing how the topic appealed to her, Jocelyn said, “I thought it was interesting because prosocial networks have a lot to do with what I was learning in the social work curriculum — how support networks really play a role in helping an individual get better. I was also interested in [the ex-offenders’] life stories.”

The common thread in all the presentations this year is that the voices of the people on the ground do matter. Social policies and intervention programmes need to take into account individual and community narratives. Only then would policies and programmes be effective and impactful.

Year 4 NUS Science and University Scholars Programme (USP) student Lai Wei Xuan, together with NUS Engineering and USP alumna Ms Annabelle Ng as well as Year 2 NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine student Nowel Tan, gathered feedback from seniors in various regions. The group developed four personas including Immobile Imran and Sociable Sangeetha, together with accompanying needs, aspirations and pain points. They found that mobility and social networks played an important role in helping elderly patients manage their healthcare needs independently. Wei Xuan said that the team chose to develop healthcare personas in order to empower their partner National Healthcare Group by providing them with a different perspective on their clients.

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Year 3 FASS student Phyllis Ho (right) speaking to Mr Lee on her project

Other presentations touched on issues such as enhancing the nursing home experience and analysing the provision of social services.

The Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre Symposium was inaugurated in 2011. To date, 366 students have been inducted as Fellows, with more than 100 meaningful projects completed.